Same robbers behind P2-M heist near Manila City Hall last April?

Is the group of heavily armed robbers who shot and then robbed a courier of a money changing shop the other afternoon in front of the Manila City Hall, also behind the bloody P2 million heist in the same area last month?

This is the question investigators of the Western Police District are now trying to answer as they now try to piece together clues that could tie the two incidents together.

Chief Inspector Juanito Taluban, chief of the WPD Homicide Section, said they have already submitted the bullet cartridges recovered last Friday at the crime scene to forensic examiners for matching with the cartridges recovered last April at the Lagusnilad Underpass.

Taluban added that they are also studying the methods used by the robbers in both incidents to find out if these were really the handiwork of just one group.

In last Friday’s incident, Edwin Patricio, 26, of 1511 Mabini Street, and a courier of the Edzen money changing shop in Mabini street was gunned down by a group of armed men as he was passing through the Kalaw-bound service road in front of the Manila City Hall at about 5:45 p.m.

Initial police investigation showed that the robbers, aboard a grey sedan, a maroon car and a motorcycle suddenly cut the three motorcycles ridden by Patricio, another courier and their security escort, Police Officer 3 Priscilo Tungol of the Tondo Police Station as they made their way to Mabini after withdrawing some P6 million from the United Overseas Bank in Binondo.

Police said that almost immediately, the suspects, armed with 9 mm and caliber .45 pistols and an M14 rifle, opened fire at the three motorcycles hitting Patricio in the chest and Tungol in the abdomen.

The third courier managed to escape with P3 million stashed in his backpack. The courier, whom police refused to identify, is now a witness in the case.

According to police, the suspects, after gunning down Patricio alighted from their car, approached the wounded courier who has thrown off his bike, grabbed his backpack containing P3 million and then shot him once again in the chest killing him on the spot.

Responding elements of the WPD then arrived at the scene and chased the suspects as they fled towards Roxas Boulevard. But as the chase neared P. Burgos street, the suspects exploded a grenade and eluded the policemen. Police Officer 3 Damaso Rivera, one of the responding policemen, was hit by shrapnel was rushed to the Philippine General Hospital. He died yesterday morning. Tungol is still under observation at the same hospital.

Recovered at the scene were three empty 9 mm shells, a caliber .45 shell and an M16 shell.

Taluban ruled out the possibility of an "inside job" in the incident and said last Friday’s heist was the "work of professionals." Investigators are also not ruling out the possibility that the robbery was the work of former soldiers as shown by the manner the heist was executed by the use of high-powered firearms.

Probers said last Friday’s heist was staged by at least seven men, including two men who rode tandem on a motorcycle and served as backup for the other suspects aboard the two cars.

Last April 10, at least three armed men aboard a motorcycle, ambushed a Nissan Bluebird Super Saloon car carrying P2 million from the Metrobank branch in Binondo to the RPM money changing shop in Ermita. The incident also happened infront of the Manila City Hall at the Lagusnilad Underpassed. Mike Frialde












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